Thursday, October 4, 2012

Geocaching DC

Many of my readers have doubtlessly heard me explain/rant and rave about how cool geocaching is, but those of you who are still somehow unfamiliar with this not-treasure hunting game for adults, here's a pretty good explanation:
And if you'd rather watch a youtube:
Or, if you hate links, this is what I have to say about it:
Geocaching is all about using GPS coordinates and a clue to find a small container or tiny object of some sort containing a "logbook," which you sign when you find it. The idea is to place geocaches in places that are unique, interesting, beautiful, etc. So that people enjoy not just that satisfaction of being able to find something hidden, but also the area in which the thing is hidden. Some caches are large and contain maybe a keychain or a button or something, which a geocacher can take if she leaves something of equal value in its place. 
I've been a registered geocacher for about a year now, but I don't have a GPS or a smartphone, so I haven't done a lot of it. But I daydream about it pretty consistently, so I always get on to my account and look up caches close to where I am living at the time. This summer I found exactly one cache (in one of my Forest Service campgrounds) which was the first time I'd found one without a GPS. It made me incredibly happy, but I figured I kinda lucked out since it was a family cache in a really big container with a bunch of toys. And the hint was obvious. 
Anyway, so after moving into my DC storage closet, I naturally looked up caches in the area and was downright giddy to find the "DC Hidden Murals" series, which consists of about twenty caches hidden around the city near murals. What got my attention about this series is that the person who made them specifically stated that the GPS coordinates were "approximate" and that one had to rely more on "geosense" than their GPS. WHAT!? Good thing I'm unemployed with nothing to do but EVERYTHING. Needless to say, I've since become obsessed. 
Here is the first one I saw, which is close to my storage closet:
The whole point of the series is to bring attention to these murals and the neighborhoods near them. I love that the geocacher who placed the caches includes some of the history about the area or the artist or why the mural is there. It's a way better way to see the city and go to neighborhoods I'd otherwise probably ignore. I've found five of the caches so far and they've led me to some pretty great explorations of the city, including stumbling upon a highly-rated Ethiopian restaurant, finding some good bookstores and coffeeshops, historic churches/bars/etc. This afternoon I found two caches. I couldn't find the third, but ended up near the American Art Gallery, which I'd been wanting to visit anyway. 
Also, I found a cache that was not by a mural but just steps away from my brother's house. It was a larger cache with stuff inside and I had just realized that I didn't have any small containers of shampoo for traveling to and from Baltimore, Richmond, Reston, and DC. So I was thrilled to find a little bottle of shampoo inside of it! Perfect! 

First (and biggest) one of the mural series! I was giddy. 
Failed to find this one because I had written down the wrong hint. 

This one is a magnetic little guy, stuck up under one of those squares on the iron there.
Close up of the above magnetic nano cache. Julia (friend from Boise) found it. Her first cache!
Found one in that fence to the left.

To keep muggles (non geocachers) from knowing what I was doing, I took a ton of these pictures of The General. I'm so sneaky!

Close up of the cache. Easy grab this time. 
The logbook (from above mural) and "micro" cache container, pen and moleskine for sizing.

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